||This article contains too many or too-lengthy quotations for an encyclopedic entry. (September 2015)|
||This article needs attention from an expert in Ecology. The specific problem is: Direct quotations need to be rephrased. (September 2015)|
Geographical features are man-made or naturally-created features of the Earth.
Natural geographical features consist of landforms and ecosystems. For example, terrain types, bodies of water, and natural units (consisting of all plants, animals, and microorganisms in an area functioning together with all of the nonliving physical factors of the environment) are natural geographical features. Conversely, human settlements or other engineered constructs are considered types of artificial geographical features.
Natural geographical features
There are 2 different terms to describe habitat types in ecology. Ecosystems and biomes may or may not be geographical features, depending on how easily discernible their boundaries are and their overall size. Ecosystems may vary in size from a log to an entire forest, covering many square kilometers. A wetland or a bog is an ecosystem that often has a clearly defined boundary and therefore may be considered a geographical feature. In contrast, biomes occupy large areas of the globe and often encompass many different kinds of geographical features, including mountain ranges.
One conceptual definition of an ecosystem is: "Any unit that includes all of the organisms (the 'community') in a given area interacting with the physical environment so that a flow of energy leads to clearly defined trophic structure, biotic diversity, and material cycles (exchange of materials between living and nonliving parts) within the system."
- Trophic structure is defined as "the way in which organisms utilise food resources and hence where energy transfer occurs within an ecosystem."
- Biotic diversity refers to "the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part". Living organisms are continually engaged in a set of relationships with every other element constituting the environment in which they exist, and "ecosystem" describes any situation where there is relationship between organisms and their environment.
One conceptual definition of a biome is "a kind of ecosystem, such as a desert, a tropical rain forest, or a grassland." A biome is "classified according to the predominant vegetation and characterized by adaptations of organisms to that particular environment." It is a "geographically-defined area of ecologically similar communities of plants, animals, and soil organisms, often referred to as ecosystems." Biomes are defined based on factors such as plant structures (such as trees, shrubs, and grasses), leaf types (such as broadleaf and needleleaf), plant spacing (forest, woodland, savanna), and climate. Unlike ecozones, biomes are not defined by genetic, taxonomic, or historical similarities. Biomes are often identified with particular patterns of ecological succession and climax vegetation.
A landform comprises a geomorphological unit, and is largely defined by its surface form and location in the landscape, as part of the terrain, and as such is typically an element of topography. Landforms are categorized by features such as elevation, slope, orientation, stratification, rock exposure, and soil type. They include berms, mounds, hills, cliffs, valleys, rivers and numerous other elements. Oceans and continents are the highest-order landforms.
A body of water is any significant accumulation of water, usually covering the Earth. The term "body of water" most often refers to oceans, seas, and lakes, but it may also include smaller pools of water such as ponds, creeks or wetlands. Rivers, streams, canals, and other geographical features where water moves from one place to another are not always considered bodies of water, but they are included as geographical formations featuring water.
Artificial geographical features
A settlement is a permanent or temporary community in which people live. Settlements range in size from a small number of dwellings grouped together to the largest of cities with surrounding urbanized areas. "[A]ssociated landscape features such as roads, enclosures, field systems, boundary banks and ditches, ponds, parks and woods, mills, manor houses, moats, and churches" may be considered part of a settlement.
Cartographic features are types of abstract geographical features — they appear on maps but not on the planet itself, even though they are located on the planet. For example, the Equator is shown on maps of the Earth, but it does not physically exist. It is a theoretical line used for reference, navigation, and measurement.
- Odum, Eugene P.; Odum, Howard T. (1971). Fundamentals of Ecology (3rd ed.). Saunders.
- "Trophic structure". Palaeos.org. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- "Convention Text — Article 2. Use of Terms". www.CBD.int. Convention on Biological Diversity. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- Botkin, Daniel B.; Keller, Edward A. (1995). Environmental Science: Earth as a Living Planet. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Canada.
- "The World's Biomes". UCMP.Berkeley.edu. University of California Museum of Paleontology. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- Basak, Anindita (2009). Environmental Studies. Dorling Kindersley. p. 288. ISBN 978-81-317-2118-6. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- "MSRG Policy Statement". Medieval-Settlement.com. Medieval Settlement Research Group. Retrieved 13 September 2015.